Attract Quality Physicians to an ASC: 6 Steps to Better Recruitment

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1. Define the kind of physician you are looking for. Joan Shearer, administrator of Lawrence (Kan.) Surgery Center, said one of the first steps in recruiting a new physician is deciding what you're looking for. This will involve talking to the center's current physicians about the kind of surgeon they'd prefer. For example, would the physicians accept a provider who was not board-certified? What special skills do they need to have? Most importantly, she said recruitment should generally focus on a specific specialty. "I've been looking to recruit a new orthopedic surgeon, but my physicians specifically want a new sports medicine surgeon," Ms. Shearer said. "It's important on the front end that everybody agrees on what you want."

Steps to better ASC physician recruitment2. Ask physicians to participate in recruitment. If the physicians are already invested in the center — financially or otherwise — chances are they'll be more than willing to help with recruitment. Ask physicians in your center for suggestions on who to recruit. This can often open the door to a physician who might otherwise not return your calls or ignore your emails.

3. Assist physicians in making casual conversations productive. Much of the interaction physicians have with each other is out in the community or casually at work. "Some of these conversations occur when they're out to dinner because they socialize together," said Lori Martin, administrator at Summit Surgery Center at Saint Mary's Galena in Reno, Nev. "Their kids go to the same school, and it comes up when they're waiting to pick the kids up from school."

Ms. Martin once recruited six physicians in 24 months this way, and she said the key to turning these casual conversations into physician recruitment is making sure the center's physicians have accurate and up-to-date information about the center's operations. This includes things such as patient satisfaction rates, infection rates, equipment, turnover times, available operating room times, insurances contracts and distribution information.

She even encourages physicians to talk about the quality of the scrubs, what's brought in for lunch for the staff and other small things that make surgeons feel appreciated. It might seem trivial, but it really makes a difference, she said.

4. Ensure that physician partners feel valued throughout the recruitment process. Because the physician partners will inevitably interact with potential recruits heavily during and after the recruitment process, it is important to make them feel involved in the process. "Help the cause as the administrator by being a trusted member of the team," said Gary Seaberg, Director, Strategic Accounts, HEALTHeCAREERS Network. "The physicians need to know that the administrator is looking out for their best interests and the interests of the ASC as a thriving entity."

An administrator can actively involve the physician partners by asking them to define the physician they seek for the center, he said. "Without the help and support from the existing base of physicians, there will be no new ones added — superstar or not," he said. "It is fiercely competitive, and it's important to have everyone buying in to the recruitment process."

5. Emphasize a lack of bureaucratic obstacles. Many surgery center physicians choose ASC investment or participation because of the freedom it affords them in making decisions and pushing through initiatives. In a hospital, a physician may have to deal with a number of policies or committees before receiving approval for a piece of equipment, for example. In a surgery center, such a decision can often be made through a conversation with the administrator.

Kris Sabo, administrator of Pend Oreille Surgery Center in Ponderay, Idaho, said administrators should emphasize the stress-free nature of the ASC when recruiting new investors. "On the provider side, they're focused on the patient, and they don't want to have to worry about what's next," she said.

She gives the example of keeping physician preference cards updated. Instead of talking to the physician about updating his or her preference cards, talk to a trusted member of his or her office staff and make sure the listed supplies are up-to-date. Let potential physicians know that they won't have to deal with bureaucratic struggles in your ASC because you will treat them as a customer.

6. Make the transition easy and convenient for the recruit. A surgery center should highlight the advantages that distinguish it from other centers. For example, it can offer to pay for licensure expenses and 100 percent of relocation expenses, said John Tomsic, vice president of sales for Randstad Healthcare.

"Your ASC's compensation package needs to be competitive both in terms of salary and benefits," said Scott Berger, head of recruitment strategy for MDR Associates. An ASC can also emphasize its organizational office capabilities, marketing itself as a center that removes the administrative burden from the physician's mind, he said.

More Articles on Turnarounds:
7 Ways ASCs Can Increase Profits Quickly Without Additional Overhead
7 Steps for a Smoothly-Run Multispecialty ASC
Healthcare Company to Know: Intralign

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